Friday, January 21, 2011

Scrum has 3 advantages over XP (but XP is better)

For corporations Scrum offers three advantages over Extreme Programming:

1) It offers certification - corporates can hire people who are “certified” and have their own people certified.
2) Scrum traces its roots back to the Harvard Business Review - so it must be serious
3) Scrum does not contain the words “extreme” or “programming”. No need to dirty our hands with messy code, keep that stuff as far away as possible (the further the cheaper, right?)

On the other hand, XP has two advantages over Scrum:

1) It actively seeks to address the quality problems most software development teams suffer from and which cripple productivity
2) It excites the people who actually do the work - dispensing with “resistance to change” in one fell swoop

At Agile Cambridge last year I saw a really good presentation from people at GE Energy about their Agile adoption. Frankly I’m sceptical about the ability of any large organisation to adopt Agile but these guys had some real success to show.

Two things stuck in my mind. When summing up the presenter said:

“If I was doing the same thing again I would start with the XP technical practices not the Scrum process” and he went on “We have adopted Scrum, we are now advancing to XP.”

XP and Scrum date from about the same time (mid-90’s). Perhaps because XP become popular first and Scrum later succeeded it as the Agile-poster-child many people seem to think Scrum is superior, or at least a superset of XP. Actually, the reverse is true.

XP is a superset of Scrum, and, in my humble opinion, superior.